Throughout the course of my recovery from a toxic relationship with a narcissist, I have found myself experiencing several shifts in mindset – moments where it felt almost like some sort of switch had been flipped – where I suddeNly understood things differently and recognized that I had been wrong all along in some way or another. Each time, I found myself evolving and growing in new ways.
A couple of years later, I found myself in a very unexpected moment of anger one day. Through the process of my inner child work, I had managed to recognize that I wasn’t the complete waste of skin that I had been led to believe I was. You would think that would make me happy, and it did, eventually.
But when I recognized how much of my life had been wasted believing that I was worthless – and that it was directly caused by the fact that I had allowed other people’s opinions of me to become my own opinion – and on some level my own reality?
I was incredibly angry. I felt, perhaps for the first time in my life, what I call justified rage. That moment would lead to another one of those “light switch” moments where my perception was suddenly shifted and I launched into a whole new period of personal evolution.
And then there was the birth of my oldest child – which led me to have a shift in my understanding of my relationship with my father, for reasons I won’t go into today. The birth of my youngest child, and only girl, caused a different shift in me – it led me to recognize a connection with the generations of women who came before me.
And it made me start digging into my family history and genealogy – because since I couldn’t feel connected to my mother, I felt the need to feel connected to the other women who came before me in a whole new way. I could go on for hours about the little “shifts” that have led me to this particular point in my personal development and evolution, but I won’t.
Today we are here to talk about you and your own personal evolution. We are discussing The Shift vs. Profound Metamorphosis in Our Evolution after narcissistic abuse.
I found this quote a while back. It reads:
“As you are shifting you will begin to realize you are not the same person you used to be. The things you used to tolerate have now become intolerable. Where you once remained quiet you are now speaking your truth. Where you once battled and argued you are now choosing to remain silent. You are beginning to understand the value of your voice and there are some situations that no longer deserve your time energy and focus.” ~Unknown
It spoke to me on a soul level. In fact, I did realize I wasn’t the person I had been before. And I was no longer tolerating the same crap I once did. And clearly, I am now speaking my truth.
I had also stopped bothering to argue with people who would refuse to hear or understand me – I was saving my energy and my voice for things and people that actually DO deserve my time and focus. People like YOU.
Here’s the thing -THIS is why I do what I do. Because even if you’re not ready to say goodbye to the problems (or problem people) in your life, you will personally shift as you learn about what you’re dealing with and as you’re learning about yourself.
The shift thing, though – that’s real. And maybe I never even considered it a shift before. Maybe I saw it as something fancier – a metamorphosis or a profound transformation.
But it all begins with this one thing – it’s a shift. A shift in your mindset. A shift in your thought patterns. A shift in your personal awareness and a shift in the deepest part of your soul. It’s a shift in your energy. Yes, it becomes a metamorphosis. YES, it turns into a profound transformation. But without the shift – well, it never begins, does it?
As you shift, you become less and less tolerant of things that tarnish your energy and corrode your life – and over time, you raise your standards. Slowly but surely, you grow in confidence and understanding of yourself. Bit by bit, step by step.
If you’re in a toxic relationship with a narcissist at this time, you find that before long, you KNOW you have to change if you ever want to be happy and to grow. But once that shift is underway, a powerful and sometimes shocking thing happens. You SEE the problem, and you KNOW the solution. Things have never been clearer!
Now it’s time to shine because you are about to create something better. Something new. Come hell or high water, you will start taking care of yourself as your mother SHOULD have, and you will become your own fiercest advocate. And this is when, even when it seems impossible, you figure out a way to make the obvious solution become a reality.
THAT is the shift, right?
As we go through the healing process, we learn first that we have the problem, then we understand the “mechanics” of it.
Eventually, the psychology, the behaviors and at some point, it all comes together for us and we recognize the depth of it. Then, and in my opinion, ONLY then, can we really begin to evolve – to shift – and to become the truest, fullest versions of ourselves.
See full video.
Narcissistic abuse recovery story on going no contact with narcissist mother. I’m briefly sharing my story on how I finally went no contact with my narcissist mother (and why) as well as offering advice and tips on how to get through going no contact and how to rebuild your life afterward. Read the full story as mentioned in the video.
Today, we’re going to talk about narcissists and gaslighting and whether or not it can be intentional. If you’ve ever had a friend, family member or co-worker who is a narcissist or who suffers from narcissistic personality disorder (NPD), chances are you have been the victim of gaslighting, which is a manipulation technique they often employ to get what they want.
In case you’re new around here, let me define gaslighting for you. Used by most narcissists, gaslighting is a pervasive and highly-effective tactic meant to manipulate you by psychological means into questioning your own sanity. Or, in layman’s terms, gaslighting is when a toxic person intentionally messes with your head to make you doubt your reality and your sanity. And, if you haven’t already guessed, gaslighters make you feel crazy because they act like your reactions to their abuse are not rational.
But is it intentional? Are narcissists and other toxic people using gaslighting on purpose? Do they think about it first, or is it just in their nature? Do people who are utilizing gaslighting tactics even know they are doing that?
Can gaslighting be unintentional?
In the examples I gave, do you think that the gaslighting was done on purpose or by nature? Were the narcissists I talked about calculating or was this just the way their minds work? Well, let’s discuss that. It could go one of two ways.
In some cases yes, a narcissist can be well-aware of what they’re doing. Maybe they don’t call it “gaslighting,” but they have studied you and long-practiced the strategy and how it works in order to manipulate others. It is all about gaining control. The ones who intentionally manipulate and do so in a calculated, focused way tend to be more intelligent as well as higher on the cluster B spectrum. They’re more likely to qualify as sociopaths and psychopaths.
However, in other cases, there are abusers and narcissists who utilize gaslighting tactics without even realizing it as well.
In those instances, they are still wanting to gain control to manipulate others, and when that happens, gaslighting is one of those tactics they use. But that does not mean the gaslighting is intentional. It just comes with the territory. In many cases, children who were raised by narcissistic parents or one narcissistic parent would have learned those tactics along the way by watching what the parent does. It can just be their nature, or a learned behavior. It might look like a bad habit.
For example, if the parent had an addiction and they did not want the children to tell anyone about it, they would use gaslighting tactics to keep the child quiet. This would involve some form of manipulation by the parent. Another common gaslighting tactic that toxic parents use is that they do what they can to alienate the child from the other parent. Especially when the parents are separated or divorced as they will depict the other parent as the ‘deadbeat’ even if that is far from the truth.
The worst part is that oftentimes children who are abused and manipulated sadly repeat history. Some realize that they need to break the cycle so they don’t do that to their children. This can ensure that the toxic legacy doesn’t continue. But those who do pick up those tactics will be more likely to be manipulative towards others even if they are unintentionally gaslighting. They still are doing it to get what they want. And whether or not the manipulator is aware of gaslighting, they both are a pathological way of cruelly manipulating the mind to get what they want. They don’t care if you get hurt in the end.
Bottom line: it is true that gaslighting can be unintentional. But remember this: that does not make it any less problematic than those who are intentionally doing it to you.
If you were raised in a healthy home with loving parents, then chances are you would have been well-rounded and balanced. If your parents were neglectful, abusive or absent, you might be struggling to find yourself, at the very least. You might also be living with a form of post-traumatic stress disorder that significantly affects your everyday reality.
In either case, if you happened to end up in a relationship with someone who turned out to be a toxic narcissist, or even who had been diagnosed with narcissistic personality disorder, then you would have had to endure their abuse. And if you were in that relationship for a long time, then you might feel like you’ve lost yourself – or like you’ve never really known your true self at all.
That is due to the fact that narcissistic abuse changes you. It changes who you become. It changes what might have been a happy, confident, secure person into someone who doubts their worth and their value every day. It takes away your ability to have a healthy, full life and causes you to hyper-focus on it as you try in vain to resolve it, repeatedly, over and over again.
What happens during a relationship with a toxic narcissist to lead to these changes?
You’re probably wondering exactly which parts of this kind of relationship will lead to this metamorphosis. I’m going to walk you through some of the most common feelings and experiences that lead to the loss of self in a toxic relationship.
You go through these ups and downs. One week, you might be feeling elated because you’ve finally figured out the exact right thing to say to this person. You rehearse it in the mirror. You go over and over it in your head. You know that THIS TIME, it’s going to work. THIS TIME, the narcissist will finally see the light and become the amazing person you know they can be – or at least, see you for the decent person you are.
When the conversation happens, you are ready and on point. You say all the right things and you think you might see a spark of understanding that will ignite a fire-storm of positive change in the relationship.
You finish up what you’ve got to say and you pause, looking expectantly at the narcissist, hoping that look on their face is one of comprehension and realization. The pause feels like a full minute before the narcissist begins to speak.
And when they do, you feel yourself utterly deflating. You hear the same old responses. The same narcissistic rage, and when you don’t respond to that, because you’ve learned the gray rock method and you understand that reacting emotionally will only further encourage them to act out? They pull out the old narcissistic injury card. You know, the “poor me” act? Yep.
And it is at this very moment when you realize, for the 547-thousandth time, that this person will not change. That there’s nothing you could possibly do or say to be enough for them, to get them to wake up and see this person standing in front of them, just asking them to love them. And you mentally resign yourself to one of two things. Either you realize that you’ve got to leave, or you realize that this is now your life.
So, how does a relationship with a toxic narcissist change you?
Well, it’s simple. Narcissistic abuse causes brain damage and brain damage of any type changes you. There are three significant parts of the brain, including the amygdala, hippocampus, and the cortex.
The amygdala is the area of the brain that is known as the ‘fear center’. Each time you become scared or anxious, that area is activated. It also keeps the memories of the abuse in it and each time anyone talks about it, that activates the amygdala. the abuse you had endured is what caused the fear center to keep activating. And the constant activation of the fear center will cause it to increase. This can lead to mood disorders and anxiety disorders.
Then there is the hippocampus which is the area of the brain that stores short-term memories (which it then converts into long-term memories). The hippocampus dictates how and when you can learn anything new. However, uncontrolled stress will shrink the hippocampus. So, as you might imagine, the constant stress you’re dealing with when you’re in a toxic relationship with a narcissist will it to shrink. This leads you to struggle more with learning new things in addition to being extra forgetful.
And finally, there is the cortex of the brain. This is the area of the brain that is located right behind the eyes. This is the area that is in charge of planning, making decisions, attention, and memory. The cortex also shrinks the same way the hippocampus does when you are under too much uncontrolled stress. This causes decision-making tp become a challenge. Your attention span gets shorter. You’re far more likely to deal with depression. You might be dealing with apathy, meaning you just don’t feel like you can do anything at all – that feeling of being just stuck. And you stop caring about yourself. You might even stop showering or brushing your teeth. Self-care becomes a thing of the past.
So, now you know why you might have previously been successful, and took good care of yourself, and wanted to contribute something to society – but after enduring narcissistic abuse, you found yourself being a shadow of what you used to be. And now you know that there is a scientific explanation of how the abuse changed you.
But the good news is that the brain can be retrained. And there are things you can do on your own at home to actually start to sort of “rewire your brain.” That is thanks to neuroplasticity.
“When you’re happy, relaxed, and free of stress, the body can accomplish amazing, even miraculous, feats of self-repair.” ~Lissa Rankin
When you are healing from narcissistic abuse, you probably already know that it is important to eat well, exercise, develop better habits, and, if you can, to work with your coach or therapist on your recovery process. But one thing many of us forget is the importance of releasing our tension and taking time to relax. It’s so important to both your physical and mental health to find time to mindfully and intentionally relax on a regular basis. The fact is that narcissistic abuse does a real number on you.
5 Ways to Stay Relaxed During Narcissistic Abuse Recovery
Let’s talk about 5 important relaxation tips to utilize as you heal from narcissistic abuse.
1. Keep Stressors To A Minimum
Stress is a guaranteed part of everyone’s life. No one gets a pass. But, those of us who are actively trying to recover from narcissistic abuse are faced with a variety of added stressors, thanks to the abuse you may have suffered at the hands of a toxic narcissist and the after-effects of this trauma. So, if you are recovering from narcissistic abuse, you must do what you can to keep stressors to a minimum. This means delegating tasks if you are feeling overwhelmed. Or, for example, save yourself some time and have your groceries delivered, rather than running out each week. In any case, do your best to only focus on tackling 3 tasks a day if that is all you can handle. And prioritize what needs to be done. Don’t forget: you are going to need plenty of down time as you go through this healing process. You might like to check out this video on tapping to relieve stress and anxiety in narcissistic abuse.
You already know that the ideal amount of sleep to get each night is 7 to 8 hours. And you don’t want to oversleep either as that is just as dangerous as not sleeping enough. However, there are times when you will need an extra hour of rest here and there. Remember that your body is exhausted and stressed from enduring narcissistic abuse for so long. It is understandable that you would need extra rest. Try a nap during the day and try not to sleep for more than an hour. You may have trouble falling asleep at night otherwise. But if you need the extra rest, be sure to get it. This is really important, especially for survivors of narcissistic abuse, who may have been victims of sleep abuse.
Just as it is important to schedule in the tasks you need to do in a day, you also must schedule in downtime. And be sure to do the things that relax you such as reading your favorite book, or laying in the hammock for an hour if you have one. You have a lot of unwinding to do! This will help you to reduce brain fog, a common side effect of narcissistic abuse.
If you don’t have a hobby, it is important to find one and to get into it. The question is what is something that makes you happy? What calms you down? What are your passions? That is where it starts. Remember, you no longer have to deal with a narcissist talking you out of doing things you love. You may have to relearn what it is that you enjoy. Look into local classes as well that are relevant to the hobby of your choice. A hobby is a great way to begin to let go of the toxic relationship and start to develop unbreakable self-esteem after abuse.
You probably were denied having a social life when you were with the narcissist. Now is the time to develop one. Join some groups. It is always relaxing and fun to hang out with some friends and to have dinner with the group. Socializing gives you that important downtime that you need.